Unlike social distancing and face coverings, remote working looks set to remain a feature of our daily lives long after we’re out of the grips of the pandemic.

With it comes a set of unchartered challenges many businesses haven’t had to navigate before.

Questions the C suite may need to ask themselves are

  • How can we make remote working sustainable in the long term?
  • How can we assure the security of our data and that of our customers?
  • How can we recruit, onboard, and integrate remote workers?
  • How do we manage hybrid working?
  • How can we assure remote workers have the same opportunities as their on-site colleagues?

Many organisations are investigating creating a role that will be responsible for answering all these questions and many more.

Step forward the Chief Remote Work Officer (CRWO).

The idea of this role is in its infancy and will likely take years to characterise. However, thinkers have got some idea of its responsibilities and the types of skills and responsibilities that the holder of this role will have to possess.

The CRWO. What will they DO?

Responsible for all aspects of remote working in an organisation, the CRWO will need to ensure that all remote workers within an organisation are set up to succeed. It will be their chief responsibility to ensure the seamless integration of remote workers and their hybrid colleagues. Employees moving between the office and home has the potential to be somewhat chaotic. It will be the duty of the CRWO to make sure that hybrid and remote workers are not nomadic, and that they have a solid footing in the organisation.

The CRWO – cross-departmental collaborators.

The success of remote workers relies upon a collaborative cross-departmental approach. As a result, the CRWO must be an individual with stellar communication skills and a proven history of inter-departmental working.

Here are just a few of the ways a successful remote working policy relies upon cross collaborative working.

1. HR.

Talent acquisition.

The CRWO will be required to be entrenched in the recruitment of remote workers. They will need to ensure job descriptions are appealing to a remote workforce, and that the talent team are accessing the best channels for sourcing and attracting remote workers.  Looking at talent acquisition through a wider lens, the CRWO will have to work to create a company culture and brand identity that welcomes and supports its remote workforce.

Onboarding and training.

If remote workers aren’t set up effectively within an organisation on day 1, they are likely to be less connected to the role and organisation. It will be up to the CRWO to collaborate with HR to ensure that remote new starters are set up to succeed.

The CRWO will train and manage line management teams to integrate remote workers and work with training and development to ensure that remote teams are given the same amount and standards of training as on-site colleagues.

Company culture.

The long-term success of a remote workforce is dependent upon the remote team feeling engaged and assimilated into the organisation. The Chief Remote Work Officer must strive to create a company culture that promotes equal opportunities; one in which all the workforce are offered the same opportunities and given the same chances to excel.

Unsure how to keep your remote workers happy? Read our recent blog here.

2. Technology and IT.

Tech.

If we were in any doubt about how critical effective digital tools are to the success of remote working, the pandemic has proven it to be fact.

The CRWO must ensure that remote teams are set up to succeed. Do they have all the tech they need? Are they set up to work effectively?

With tech and digital tools evolving rapidly, especially in the distributed work force space, there will always be new solutions that claim to streamline remote working. The CRWO must be ahead of the game and make sure they are aware of industry advances that facilitate ever effective remote working.

The CRWO must also be acutely aware of the levels of exposure remote workers are receiving to business notifications after office hours. One less welcome feature of home working is that remote workers are more susceptible to burn out. With no real end to the working day, remote teams are likely to feel more obligated to over work. The CRWO must seek ways to work that prevent this, and as a result, protect its remote workforce.

Cyber Security.

Remote teams are more likely to suffer cyber-attacks than onsite workers. As a result, CRWOs should work collaboratively with CTOs and CSOs to promote a culture of security in which best practices around password management, encryption and use of VPNs are a priority for remote and hybrid employees.

4. Finance.

Salary and remuneration.

The CRWO can help to define and establish a fair and equitable compensation scheme for remote salaries, perks, and benefits.  Remote workers have a different set of priorities than onsite teams.  For example, could you provide a bursary scheme to help set up a home office? Could you offer a discount scheme on office furniture or an electric allowance?

There are some more intricate questions that need answering…for example, should the location of the distributed workforce be taken into consideration, or should remote workers receive the same package regardless of where they live?

Finding solutions like this will be the remit of the CRWO.

Read our thoughts on how remote working will affect tech salaries here.

CRWO. The Skills and Experience required.

As the CRWO will be a newly defined role, the holder of this title will be in a somewhat unique position to personalise the role. The requirements of the CRWO will be different depending upon the sector, remote worker numbers, and the overall size of the business.

However, there are some skills the CRWO will need to possess.

Leadership.

Because this is a new role and one that has no real history, the CRWO will need to be fearless advocates in the boardroom. They will need to ensure that the policies required for remote workers are prioritised in the C Suite.

Remote team management.

Managing remote teams requires a different style of management than leading onsite teams. Candidates who wish to be considered for CRWO will need to have proven experience in remote team management.

Are you looking for a CRWO?

If you are an organisation looking to solidify your remote team’s place in your business, then you may be eager to look further into hiring a CRWO.  If this is the case, you may like to consider the following.

  • Look out for those who headed up the transition to remote working at the start of the pandemic and then led these teams throughout.
  • Identify where your remote teams are most vulnerable.  If cyber security is your main concern, for example, then you should look for individuals with an IT background. If company culture is your priority, then an individual with senior HR experience will be more applicable.
  • Remember that this is a role without a definitive skillset, so many candidates won’t have direct experience.  You should think of the potential that applicants can bring to the organisation rather than perfectly matching the JD to the employment experience.

You should look for someone that is a versatile leader who has the depth to grow into the role.  Long-term remote working will be a transition, and as such the successful candidate should have change management skills, with an understanding of what remote and hybrid teams need to succeed.

Do you think the role of CRWO is up your street? Or are you a business leader wanting to hire someone to lead and head up your remote team and look after their interests?

In either of these scenarios, Ignite can help.  We have extensive experience in placing C Suite candidates into organisations of all sizes and across all sectors.  We understand the future of work and what your organisation needs to consider. We will guide you to ensure that you are able to leverage the potential of remote work. We know that remote working is the future and that it has the potential to be an attractive, highly functioning, and productive feature of your organisation.

Reach out to us today.

About the author: I manage the recruitment for a range of digital roles for my clients on both a retained and contingency basis. I specialise in senior and confidential appointments, always giving a first class representation of a client’s employer brand.

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